Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Dog Whisperer's "Dueling Pit Bulls"

The preview of this week's episode of "The Dog Whisperer" features a female Pit Bull named "Trinity" that apparently had aggression problems. The dog was taken to The Dog Whisperer's rehabilitation center. The owners, Monica and Justin, pull up to visit. They haven't seen Trinity in a month. Cesar a.k.a The Dog Whisperer greets them saying that he wanted them to see how well their girl was behaving off-leash in the company of numerous other dogs, the rest of Cesar's "pack".

We see her trotting happily with other pack members passing her by without notice.

As the owners slowly approach, their dog suddenly sees them. She runs up and happily begins trying to jump on them, switching between the man and the woman. Cesar has apparently told them in advance not to react, to ignore her until she is calm.

He explains that at that moment they represent excitement to Trinity, that even though he understands her excitement that she should not be greeting them this way. Her ideal state should always be calm submissive. The woman is clearly having a tougher time not reacting. At one point she takes a step back and turns away.

"No", Cesar tells to her, "don't back up." He explains that by backing up she is giving up her space to Trinity, allowing her to feel dominant. Monica's avoidance is giving Trinity power. Trinity has begun "claiming" her owners. Within seconds we see that Trinity is now standing defensively, guarding "her" property.

Cesar senses the dog's tension level go up. Pack members come over to investigate. One of them, another Pit Bull, gets too close for Trinity's liking and she attacks. Cesar, the owners, and film crew act quickly to separate the two. The excitement quickly becomes a feeding frenzy, and at least one other fight breaks out. Trinity and the other Pit Bull take a moment before releasing their jaws. It's now over.

Cesar has Trinity taken away from her owner's presence and into a pen. Moments later the dog she was fighting with is put in there with her. Both have drawn blood, but we see that there is no residual tension. They behave as if nothing has happened.

Trinity had spent a full month as part of Cesar's pack without incident. At least, until her owners showed up.

This was particularly jarring reminder of how we, as dog owners, must set a calm example. Our dogs feed off of the energy that we bring, good or bad. A responsible dog owner must provide more than food, shelter, and love. We must learn to communicate with them in a way that they will comprehend. We owe it to them.

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